We have been staying at increasingly 'posh' hotels for a few years now and, having chosen the Banyan Tree, I got the impression from other reviews that a Double Pool Villa was the best one could get, but might be very costly. Our travel agent, Thomas Cook, were unable to even get a price for a DPV, so we just booked a Lagoon Pool Villa and I e-mailed the hotel directly to ask about an upgrade if possible. A couple of weeks before departure, Banyan Tree simply confirmed our upgrade, at no extra cost. Other reviews were a bit hazy about just how different a Double Pool Villa was, so we didn't know what to expect. Wow! I have never written a review before but feel compelled to write this one, just to let other visitors know exactly why you should sell your soul to get a DPV.
We were collected at the airport by our own Villa Attendant, or Butler and whisked in luxury to the hotel, where the formalities were swift and easy. Our Butler gave us a mobile phone with a speed dial to him. Any needs at all, just call!
Then the villa, ours was 917. The building is beautiful and absolutely huge and set in its own private grounds. A small oval drive delivers you to the front porch which includes a full kitchen including fresh coffee maker, cooker, tall fridge, microwave; the lot. And two bikes to get around on if you feel energetic. The main doors lead into a long, open, corridor lined with statues which delivers you to a huge room called a 'logia'. This is like an enormous lounge but one wall consists of nothing but sliding glass panels, so that it can be openned up completely. The logia is so big that the floral arrangement in the centre looks normal, even though it is larger than many we have seen in hotel foyers.
To the right is a lounge area with a sofa that requires a taxi ride to reach the back and the most fantastic office area ever seen. One subtle thing is that the only TV in the villa is here, unlike other hotels with more TVs than chairs. Banyan Tree is about natural relaxation, not watching TV.
To the left of the logia is another short corridor leading to the bathroom and bedroom. The bathroom is, again, enormous and has every luxury, including an indoor and an outdoor shower, with the indoor one also being a steam room. There is also a walk in dressing area here. When you finally walk into the bedroom, it's stunning, particularly if you arrive at night as we did. The whole bedroom is on an island in the middle of a small pool, and has glass walls all around; incredibly romantic.
The logia opens onto a huge area of pool and gardens, all utterly private. The lawns lead down to the lagoon edge but you won't go there once you see the pool. The main pool has a swimming area some 12m long, with an infinity edge looking across the lagoon. There is also a separate spa pool built into the main pool. The decks include two sun beds, both double bed sized, dining tables, dryers etc. All of this is surrounded by walls of stone and bamboo, giving total privacy.
It took us a while to realise that the Banyan Tree is the premier hotel in the Laguna complex and that the Double Pool Villas are an elite enclave within Banyan Tree. Many facilities can only be accessed by DPV guests, such as the VIP area on the beach.
Then there's the service and the special touches. Each evening we found a new and fairly expensive gift from the hotel on our bed, and each morning our Butler came at the time requested to cook us a fresh breakfast of our choice; none of this going to the communal area for us! Complimentary cocktails each evening and complementary treatments at the main Spa were also a treat.
We ate in several of the resteraunts and the quality was fabulous,without exception. The meals were costly but only at the same level as we would have paid for a similar meal back home, and these were far better than we can usually find elsewhere. I would particularly recommend Saffron and Tamarind. The in-villa dining is also worth a mention as you can select from all of the menues of all of the resteraunts and mix them up; the result is like one giant menu of hundreds of dishes. All served by our Butler, of course.
The Laguna complex also has a 'Canal Shopping' area which has some really good shops. And if you get fed up of the expensive resteraunts, then the 'Albatross' pub has a menu at one third of the price and the food is almost as good as the posh nosh. Free lagoon boats go around the whole area.
We wanted to have some clothes made, and asked our Butler to recommend somewhere. Instead, he brought the tailor to our villa and three days and two fittings later we were kitted out.
One party of guests arrived whilke we were there and immedialely demanded a move to another hotel because the Banyan Tree does not afford a view of the beach or sea. If that's what you want, then don't go. Personally, I think that they were crazy. Banyan Tree is about peace, relaxation, romance, privacy and utter luxury.
But the true quality of this hotel came into focus on what should have been our last day. Bangkok airport had been occupied by a civil uprising hours before, and we could not depart. Our Thomas Cook rep was utterly out of her depth, but our Butler simply stepped in and, backed by the whole Banyan Tree staff, sorted out a way for us to get out, two days later, and in just as much comfort as we enjoyed before. Banyan Tree had a whole team of their staff permanently at Phuket airport just sorting out the travel problems of their guests, and I doubt that many hotels would have done that.
I cannot commend this hotel highly enough. We lived in the true lap of luxury for 12 days and, if you can afford it, go for a Double Pool Villa; it's worth it! If you're very lucky, you'll get the services of Vichy as your Butler; a remarkable young man who will remain our friend. Go on, treat yourself!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Banyan Tree Phuket, Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary and DoublePool Villas by Banyan Tree each deliver a unique experience in a tranquil setting. Located at Bang Tao Bay on the northwest coast of Phuket Island in Thailand, a 20-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. Banyan Tree Phuket Resorts is part of Laguna Phuket, Asia's first integrated resort, and is also the first Banyan Tree resort to be conceptualised and built, setting the benchmark for future properties. This flagship resort offers 173 luxuriously appointed villas surrounded by lush tropical gardens and Asian watercourts. All villas feature a king-sized bed, bathtub and private pool in a landscaped garden. Complimentary minibar except alcoholic drinks with daily refill for all villa categories. The perfect haven to spend time with loved ones, Banyan Tree Phuket Resorts caters for romance, with its private pool villa, fragrant gardens and saltwater lagoons. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Banyan Tree Phuket Hotel Thalang
- Banyan Tree Phuket Cherngtalay
- Banyan Tree Phuket Thailand